A Hamilton County leader will be in Des Moines today to urge state legislators to reconsider a plan to close the Iowa Workforce Development office in Webster City. The Electrolux washer-drier factory in Webster City is also closing March 31st, eliminating 500 jobs.

County Supervisor Doug Bailey says it’s a short-sighted plan to close the Workforce Development office on July 1st. “The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors requests that Governor Branstad and Iowa Workforce Development director Teresa Wahlert develop a more responsible plan to better serve the high number of unemployed in and around Hamilton County,” Bailey says.

He’s also calling on the area’s state legislators to “encourage and support such a plan.” Bailey is asking that the Workforce Development office be kept open beyond the current proposed closing date. Last month, Wahlert proposed closing 39 field offices across Iowa in order to comply with Governor Branstad’s budget request.

Wes Sweedler, of Williams, says immediate action is needed to keep the field office in Webster City open. “This couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Sweedler says. “Recognizing that something has to be done at the state level to reduce expenditures but also it should be recognized that we have a situation here that doesn’t warrant closing our local office.”

After the Webster City office closes, Sweedler notes the nearest Iowa Workforce Development office will be in Fort Dodge, which, according to the plan, will not be any hiring additional staff. “Fort Dodge is going to be overloaded with the whole region that will be affected by the Electolux closure,” Sweedler says. “We’re calling on the powers that be to recognize the situation and make some corrections and adjustments in their plan.”

In October of 2009, Electrolux officials announced the closing of the Webster City plant — with the jobs moving to Juarez, Mexico. The washer and dryer facility has been in operation for 73 years.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City